book cover of The Coroner\'s Lunch
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The Coroner's Lunch

(2004)
(The first book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series)
A novel by

 
 
Awards
Dagger Awards Best Novel (nominee)
In Laos in the year 1976, the monarchy has been deposed, and the Communist Pathet Lao have taken over. Most of the educated class has fled, but Dr Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor remains. And so this 72-year-old physician is appointed state coroner, despite having no training, equipment, experience or even inclination for the job. But the job's not that bad and Siri quickly settles into a routine of studying outdated medical texts, scrounging scarce supplies, and circumnavigating bureaucratic red tape to arrive at justice. The fact that the recently departed are prone to pay Siri the odd, unwanted nocturnal visit turns out to be an added bonus in his new line of work. But when the wife of a party leader turns up dead and the bodies of tortured Vietnamese soldiers start bobbing to the surface of a Laotian lake, all eyes turn to Siri. Faced with official cover-ups and an emerging international crisis, the doctor enlists old friends, village shamans, forest spirits, dream visits from the dead - and even the occasional bit of medical deduction - to solve the crimes.

Genre: Mystery

Praise for this book

"The Coroner's Lunch is a satisfying feast for the mind." - Rebecca Pawel

"The Coroner's Lunch is marvelous. The setting may be unique in Western fiction, and the characters are unique to themselves. Sweet but not sappy, offbeat but not self-conscious about it, this book doesn't so much pull you in as open a door and let you walk happily through. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's books will love this one." - S J Rozan


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